The Beatrix Au mine: Unearthing "worms from hell"
Onstott's research team, along with Gaetan Borgonie of the University
of Ghent in Belgium, recently made a startling discovery: microscopic
roundworms known as nematodes living nearly two-and-a-half miles beneath
the Earth's surface in Beatrix Au mine, in the Free State Province of
South Africa. Now known as "worms from hell" or simply "devil worm,"
these field expedition videos illustrate how difficult it is to extract
specimens for research at depths of 1.3 kilometers. The videos were
taken specifically at the site of the extracted worm's location led by
mine geologist, Carl Rose.
Videos courtesy of Gaetan Borgonie, University of Ghent.
Videos #9 and #10 show water from the borehole flowing through filters
into huge columns. The videos feature Mike Pullin and Sarah Hendrickson
of New Mexico Tech pumping water through 60 liter resin columns to
capture the dissolved organic carbon for analysis.
This expedition extracted deep fracture water that will tell of what
bacteria are eating and expelling. It is the "devil worm" that eats the
bacteria creating a food chain. The goal of this trip was to obtain
samples of bacteria DNA and lipids, as well as, dissolved organic and
inorganic carbon for 14C dating. Obtaining a sample of DNA from the
"devil worm" for 14C dating was an added plus to the trip.